Billy and his daughter, Marie

Marie initially contacted one of our services in Wales for advice about her dad’s drinking. Bill had served in the armed forces and was often away from the family home for long periods. When he came home he would drink quite heavily and eventually he split up with Marie’s mum. When he left the forces, he moved into a bedsit and his alcohol use increased over the years. As he got older, his drinking impacted more and more on his health and he was becoming increasingly forgetful. After a series of accidents including a fire in his bedsit, and an accidental overdose of prescription medication, Marie sought advice from his GP who then referred Bill to social work services.

Over the next few months Bill’s case got passed between different departments including mental health, older adults and addiction. Each service did not feel they could appropriately meet Bill’s needs and he continued to fall through the net. Marie eventually phoned us for advice. She did not think that we would be able to help her dad either but she was at the end of her tether, desperate for help.

“It was a very, very lonely and isolating experience when dad was drinking. It’s your family, but there is no information, or there is misinformation even from professionals. It’s embarrassing.”

We offered Marie an appointment to come in on her own initially, to offer her practical advice and information about how to better support her dad. We also told her about an alcohol service that specifically supports veterans. After a few weeks Marie phoned again asking if she could come in with her dad. They were quickly offered an appointment and it was explained to Marie’s dad how the programme could support him and what he could expect.

Both Marie and Bill agreed they wanted to be seen together and over the next few months they explored a number of areas around safety, especially in terms of medication and falls, set goals for reducing alcohol use, and explored other family activities. A big issue for Bill was isolation so they identified activities such as group work as well as local community activities. Bill now regularly attends the veterans group and has started some classes at his local library. He also visits Marie’s house twice weekly for dinner, and goes every week with his grandson to watch football. Bill is still drinking, however only twice a week now, and he drinks in his local pub for company, never at home.

“The service supported us on our journey, never judged us. My dad could have been excluded because of his age, but they understood and gave support anyway. It has given me strength; I am not on my own. People understand and listen. I feel now that I can offer help to others in the same situation.”